The Great Whale Road is a tactical/simulation RPG that follows a Viking clan on the Medieval Coasts of the Northern Sea. We’ve all come across games that have a great idea or concept, but sort of fall short on its execution at times. The Great Whale Road is one such game. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, though. It has some merits…things it does very well, and then it has some things that could use a bit more polish.
Taking control of a clan of Northern Sea Vikings, the player is tasked with the clan’s survival and welfare during a harsh winter. For now only one clan is available to plan, but 2-3 additional clans are planned for future updates. The entirety of winter is about small stories–you’re presented with situations in text form, and must decide how you want to handle it with a few choices to choose from. Expect to do a lot of reading while playing The Great Whale Road. Everything is presented with a lot of flavor text filled with lore and scenarios, and the game does a fantastic job of making you feel like your choices matter.
Unless you like these types of games, chances are the average gamer will become quite bored with this game very quickly. As you guide your clan through the Winter, things happen and you are presented with a few choices on how to handle the situation. More often than not, there is a “correct” choice, and after awhile these choices become painfully obvious. Do you kill the guy suffering from an illness to prevent it’s spread, or do you allow one of the villagers whose seen this illness to treat him? No matter your choice, you’ll get an outcome that affects your clan in the form of increased or decreased happiness or other stats.
During the summer months, you and your warband set sail with goods and food to go on an adventure to nearby settlements to establish trade route or other such endeavors. It’s during these segments that combat comes up, and in my opinion combat is the biggest shortcoming this game has. Your warband almost always wins in the beginning, and as you progress things only get slightly more difficult. The AI isn’t very smart, as it seems like it has a one track mind and only goes after your leader. Combat is also painfully slow. Each turn chugs along, sometime staking several minutes to complete. Everything is set on a grid like your usual tactical RPGs, and you have your standard attack/skill options to defeat your foe.
This is probably where The Great Whale Road shines brightest. You can see it in the story cutscenes at the beginning of the game, and in your “hubs” segments where you plan decisions for your clan. The art direction is fantastic, with special cutscenes utilizing hand-painted assets to bring the story and situations to life. They are really quite wonderful to admire. In battle and out, the sprites and assets are quite detailed as well. The UI is clean and very crisp, with a well-defined style and presentation.
The Great Whale Road‘s soundtrack really sets the mood of the game. Very quiet, sometimes bleak, and somewhat soothing. Combat themes are kind of bland, but combat is bland to begin with. This area could use a bit of improvement, but for the time being it’s alright. Future updates are better spent on content instead of the audio.
A real story-driven experience where your choices truly matter, The Great Whale Road is a flawed but enjoyable experience for players who like a storied adventure. Full of lore and background, it’s easy to get immersed into the game’s world. It’s a great game for the right people.